Two chimpanzees escaped from a zoo are killed in Colombia

Two chimpanzees escaped from a zoo in the Colombian city of Pereira (central-west) were shot to death by public forces in the early hours of this Monday, the authorities reported.

The primates escaped on Sunday night from the Ukumarí Biopark, which initially issued an alert to residents of nearby areas to stay in their homes, given the possibility that they would attack people.

After about three hours of searching, uniformed officers found Pancho, a male who managed to travel about 2.5 kilometers alone.

According to police colonel Alexandra Díaz, the chimpanzee tried to attack one of the zookeepers, for which one of his men shot him with a rifle.

The animal went “in the direction of the caretaker and the uniformed officers who were with him in an aggressive attitude,” he told Blu Radio.

“At that moment the uniformed man reacted (…). There was an imminent need to react to safeguard the life of the park official,” Díaz added.

Chita, the female who also fled, was killed by the Army in the vicinity of the zoo, Díaz assured without offering further details.

According to Army Lieutenant Carlos Salas, the animals were killed “despite the efforts made by the biopark with tranquilizer darts to reduce them.”

“It is a last measure that should be used in the event of an extreme situation involving a highly dangerous animal, such as the chimpanzee in this case,” Salas told AFP.

The apes escaped due to “human error,” zoo manager Sandra Correa explained at a press conference.

“SMART” BUT “DANGEROUS”

Pancho had arrived in Pereira in 2007, donated to another zoo by the Gasca Brothers circus, who were prevented by law from working with animals of this type.

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That year he escaped and reached the runway of the city’s airport, forcing the operation to stop for a few hours.

“He was very intelligent, he knew how to open locks, doors. He grew up with me, he was my son. They had already been blown up once,” recalled Raúl Gasca, one of the circus owners, in an interview with Blu Radio.

Gasca indicated that Pancho was born in a zoo in Cuba and was between 22 and 23 years old. Apes of this species typically live for around 50 years.

“Currently, it is a very dangerous animal, because when they grow up they are very dangerous (…). A male chimpanzee when it bristles and stands tall is very powerful,” Gasca explained.

In a message on its social networks, the Ukumarí Biopark mourned the death of the primates: “We regret to report the loss of two of our chimpanzees. Two individuals who were under our care and protection for many years and who with their personalities fell in love and stole the hearts of all visitors.”

Animal rights activists asked the prosecution to open a criminal investigation.

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